Submitted by: MNO Education Officer Anne Trudel

Greater Essex County District School Board -photo (1)
(Left-right): The Greater Essex County District School
Board (GECDSB) Superintendent of Education Clara Howitt
GECDSB Trustee Julia Burgess, GECDSB Director of
Education Erin Kelly, GECDSB Trustee Ron Leclair,
Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO)
Region 9 Councilor Peter Rivers and MNO Windsor-Essex
Métis Council (WEMC) President Donna Grayer. Click here
for larger picture.
On June 12, 2017, The Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) with representatives from the Métis Nation, First Nation and Inuit partners signed the Indigenous Education Protocol (IEP). This junior kindergarten to grade 12 protocol is the first IEPfor any district school board in Ontario. The signing ceremony was held at West Gate Public School in Windsor.

The dignitaries were drummed in by the members of the Whitefish Junior Singers.

Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) Councilor Peter Rivers signed for the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO). Signatory for the Inuit was Anne Marie Kadluck Garrick and Director of Education Erin Kelly signed and spoke on behalf of the GECDSB.

The ceremony included two First Nation students. The inclusion of the students displayed a focus on the school’s Indigenous youth and highlighted their cultural knowledge. All of the Indigenous leaders in attendance spoke positively about the signing of the protocol as a basis for the future.

Other officiates that were present at this special occasion from the GECDSB included the District School Board Trustees Julia Burgess and Ron Leclair who self-identifies as Métis. These School Trustees were responsible for putting a motion forward requesting the IEP. The following GECDSB educators who were pivotal in the protocol work and present at the signing included Dr. Clara Howitt Superintendent of Education, Debra Laforet Principal of West Gate Public School, Tina Decastro Teacher Consultant, Stonehorse Moore of Secondary First Nation Métis Inuit Education (FNMIE) Language Instructor and FNMIE Student Support Workers Paula Hedgepeth and Jamie Kechego.

Councilor Rivers recognized the protocol as a step forward. He acknowledged his brothers and sisters from the First Nations and Inuit peoples as equals. He credited MNO WEMC President Donna Grayer for her representation of the Métis in the development of the principles and ongoing participation in Métis education. Councilor Rivers also thanked Anne Trudel MNO Education Officer for the educational resources she was able to provide through the MNO.

In 2015, President Grayer had been involved in writing the IEP for St. Clair College and she brought this experience to the process of writing the GECDSB IEP; a process that took an entire year. President Grayer identified the relationship building takes time. She states, “I got involved to show that we are a recognized Indigenous people with historic, ancestral ties in order to clear up misunderstandings associated with the Métis. I felt that the Métis Nation needed to be part of the conversation and I am grateful for the kindness shown to me at the table as we got down to the work of getting this protocol done.”

The diversity of the area and schools means its students represent a few Indigenous Nations. It is historically recognized as three Fires Confederacy, with a five Nation Treaty Coalition presently in place. The process was complicated. President Grayer explained that, “It was hard at times, but worth the tears and frustration to address the concerns brought forward and to make sure there was no exclusion within such a diverse student population, each distinction acknowledged while respecting the territory on which it was being done.”

The protocol has seven principles to guide the next actions of the GECDSB and the First Nation, Métis and Inuit partners. The first principle of the protocol is to make First Nation Métis, Inuit education a priority at every level. Another principle is to support students and employees to increase understanding and reciprocity among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

“Now the work will continue with curriculum changes, job opportunities and coming to the leaderships at the table for who should represent or teach or speak for us within classrooms and so forth, even within the Elder role,” stated President Grayer.

For more information, view news articles on CBC, OurWindsor, as well as the GEDCSB website at:

Posted: November 6, 2017